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About Los Angeles Accident Center

Los Angeles Accident Center was created to provide useful information for anyone who has been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence in Los Angeles and throughout the state of California. Author and attorney Sherwin Arzani and his team have over 17 years of personal injury experience. If you have been injured in accident, you will find useful information to assist you during this difficult time.

Driving is an incredibly popular yet inherently dangerous activity. To operate a vehicle safely requires your full attention. Anything that takes the focus off the road can lead to an accident. This includes things like eating, looking at your navigation system, talking on your cell phone, or even having a heated conversation with a passenger.

By the numbers, distracted driving causes over 3,000 deaths per year. Texting while driving is the most troubling of all forms of distracted driving. It reportedly takes your attention off of the road for at least 5 seconds. For that reason, a number of states and cities are passing regulations aimed at cracking down on this form of distracted driving.

The Hands-Free Law in Austin

The city of Austin passed an ordinance to curb distracted driving-related accidents in 2015. The ordinance prohibits the use of electronic hand-held devices while driving a car or operating another vehicle, such as a motorcycle or motorhome. Failure to comply with the law can result in a fine of up to $500. Things can get worse if you get into a car accident in Austin while texting.

Included in the definition of hand-held devices are cell phones, laptops, personal digital assistants, music players, GPS/navigation systems, gaming devices and pagers. Unpermitted use of these electronics includes any activity that requires the driver to touch the device. Examples would be dialing phone numbers, viewing images, browsing websites, sending or reading texts, and playing games.

However, the ordinance does allow for the use of these devices in cases of emergency. But, the driver would be required to first bring the vehicle to a complete stop before engaging with the device. 

Now, it is important to note that this law does not apply to passengers. Further, hands-free devices used by the driver are permitted. An example would be a cell phone call connected through Bluetooth and utilizing the vehicle’s speakers.

Additional Texas Laws on Distracted Driving

The state of Texas has also made efforts to reduce distracted driving. In 2017, the state passed a law that completely bans texting while driving. Further, the law states that if a texting-related accident results in death or serious bodily injury, the texter can be charged with a misdemeanor. The misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 or up to one year of jail time.

It is important to note that this law only applies to reading, writing, or sending electronic messages. This means that it does not regulate other forms of distracted driving, such as using a GPS system or talking on the phone.

Keep in mind that the law places a few other limits on the use of electronic devices while operating a vehicle. Drivers are not allowed to use hands-free devices in school zones. Further, drivers under the age of 18 and school bus drivers are prohibited from using cell phones for calls or texts, even hands-free devices.

Distracted Driving Laws in Los Angeles

Similar to Texas, California has passed a few laws related to distracted driving. Except in cases of emergency, California drivers may not use hand-held devices while driving. The fine for violation of this statute ranges from $20-$50. However, note that these violations do not result in points being added to your driving record.

Now, drivers in California are generally permitted to use hands-free devices. The exception would be if you are under 18 years of age. Minors are completely barred from using cell phones while driving. There is also a separate law that bans texting while driving. Fines for violating this statute start at $20.

Comparison of Distracted Driving Laws

As you can see, states are grappling with the question of how to encourage distraction-free driving. Many have passed laws to punish distracted driving, using both fines and even jail time in some cases. The main variation across state lines appears to be the severity of the punishment.  

At present, the city of Austin and the state of Texas have stricter regulations than California. In fact, the fines for using hand-held devices in Austin are nearly tenfold higher than in Los Angeles. Further, Texas has a much harsher criminal penalty if an accident results from a driver texting. 

Now, given the number of drivers on the road in Los Angeles, there is a lot at stake with simply maintaining the status quo. Instead, motorists could benefit from stricter penalties like those enacted in Austin and Texas. These laws would help deter dangerous and potentially deadly distracted driving behaviors.

Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

Being involved in a personal injury lawsuit can be stressful. A case can take months or even years to resolve, particularly if the matter goes all the way to trial.

The good news is that only about 4-5% of personal injury lawsuits ever reach a verdict. The flipside to this is that 95-96% of these cases settle, meaning that the plaintiff accepts a sum of money in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.

How Settlements Happen

In basic terms, a personal injury settlement is an agreement between the defendant (or insurance adjuster) and the plaintiff. This agreement may occur before the lawsuit is filed or after the commencement of a trial. A settlement can happen at any point prior to a verdict being issued by the court.

If a settlement is reached, the plaintiff forfeits all potential claims against the defendant. This means that the plaintiff is barred from bringing any additional cases against the defendant for the particular injury.

Timeline for Trial

The trial process can be very slow. Court statistics in California indicate that cases can take between 12 and 24 months to complete. One of the reasons for this delay is due to what is known as the discovery phase of litigation. During this stage, both parties to the lawsuit participate in out of court interviews made under oath (known as depositions). These alone can take 6 months or more to complete.

Note that the attorneys for each party to a personal injury lawsuit will want to be thorough in preparing their case for trial. This requires an in-depth investigation of the accident and the witnesses involved. The lawyers will also try to locate all of the evidence in the case and will need time to get ready to present this evidence at trial.

Further, not all cases end when a verdict is issued by the court. The losing party generally has the right to appeal, which adds more time and uncertainty, as well as legal fees.

Risks of Going to Trial

Going to trial in a personal injury case is a lot like gambling. The plaintiff could walk away with nothing, which means that they would then be fully responsible for paying their medical bills, covering lost income, and footing the bill for any additional expenses incurred. It is important to note that plaintiffs lose 90% of personal injury cases that end up going to trial.

At the same time, there may be a huge risk in going to trial for the defendant as well. If the plaintiff wins, the defendant could be ordered to pay a lot more than the parties would have agreed to in settlement negotiations.

Keep in mind that while attorneys can give you an estimate as to what you might win at trial, these amounts are never guaranteed. With a settlement agreement, you can negotiate terms where both parties give up something in exchange for reducing the risks associated with going to court. In many cases, this can be viewed as a win-win for both sides.  

Other Downsides of Going to Trial

While plaintiffs attorneys often take personal injury cases on contingency (meaning they front the costs and fees in exchange for a portion of the damage award), defendants typically pay their attorneys by the hour. This means that a defendant can avoid higher legal costs if they are willing to settle early. It is important to note that there are generally more costs to defending a lawsuit than just attorney fees. Typical additional costs include filing fees, expert witness fees, and other administrative fees.

Further, settling early can avoid potentially negative publicity about the incident. This is because settlement agreements are typically confidential, while court cases are in the public record and can be viewed by anyone.

If Settlement Attempts Fail

Sometimes even the best attempts at reaching an agreement in a personal injury lawsuit fail. This might be the case if the defendant refuses to admit any fault or one side will not budge on its position regarding damages.

In fact, the filing of a complaint in a lawsuit is often an indication to the defendant’s attorney that the plaintiff is serious about moving forward with the case. This act may encourage the parties to come together and be more willing to settle.

But, if settlement still cannot be reached, the case will go to trial. For this reason, it is important to have an attorney involved in the case to help propose and negotiation settlements at all pre-trial and trial stages of your case.

What Should I Do After a Slip and Fall Accident?

It can happen anywhere, at any time: you’re walking along at a grocery store or even a friend’s backyard barbecue and suddenly you slip and fall.  If you are hurt and may need to file a lawsuit later, there are a few immediate steps you can take that can make all the difference in the future. 

Steps You Should Take After A Slip And Fall

Here’s what you should do if you’re injured in a Los Angeles slip and fall accident.

Seek Medical Attention

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall, you should immediately seek medical attention. Not only is treating your injury important for your health, but getting help quickly can help your personal injury lawsuit. Before you can recover compensation, you first have to prove that you were injured. A doctor’s medical report is a good way to achieve that.

Collect Evidence

Second, it’s important to collect as much evidence as you can immediately after the accident. Take a look around you and see if there is any obvious reason for your fall. Examples include slippery pavement or an object you tripped over. If such conditions exist, take photographs or video of the area and also identify any witnesses who would be able to testify about your fall.

File a Report

Third, if your injury occurred at a business, file an official report with the company. You should also request contact information for the owner, manager, or other important person in charge of the property. If it is a private property, make sure the owner is aware that you are injured.

Consult a Personal Injury Attorney Near You

Finally, if you’ve experienced a slip and fall accident you should consult with an experienced premises liability lawyer as soon as possible. California’s statute of limitations for a slip and fall is generally two years. With the help of the medical report and evidence you’ve collected, your attorney can start the process to filing a lawsuit against the owner of the pool, usually without any money paid upfront

Who Is Responsible For My Slip And Fall Accident?

Both private property owners and business have the legal obligation to ensure that individuals on their property are safe. Failure to do so can result in the owner being held liable for the victim’s injuries.

To be successful in your premises liability claim, you need to be able to prove that the owner of the premises owed you a duty of care, that the conditions of the premises were unreasonably dangerous, that you were injured, and that the owner’s negligence was at least partly at fault for your injuries.

Additionally, there are a few key legal terms that will help determine who is liable for your slip and fall.

First, the court will have to determine what your status as a user was at the time of the accident. User status can be broken into three groups: invitee, licensee, and trespasser. 

Generally, invitees are individuals who are either directly or indirectly invited onto the premises by the owner typically for business purposes. If you were an invitee at the time of the accident, you are owed the highest duty of care. This means that the owner has the duty to reasonably inspect the premises to ensure it is safe.

An injured invitee can hold a business owner liable for slip and falls involving conditions that the owner wasn’t even aware of. For example, they failed to reasonably inspect the premises and are therefore liable for any injuries that occur.

Licensees, on the other hand, are individuals who are present on the premises for social purposes. Licensees are usually friends, relatives, and other guests of private property. Owners who invite licensees onto their premises have a duty to repair or warn guests of dangerous conditions, but not a duty to inspect for danger. 

Lastly, trespassers are individuals who are on the premises without the consent of the owner. Generally, an owner has no duty to make their premises reasonably safe for trespassers. The exception is if the trespasser is a child or the danger constitutes an attractive nuisance.